City to host international footwear conference

AGRA: The city is set to make a mark in the international footwear industry by hosting a one-day conference by Confederation of International Footwear Associations (CIFA), an organization of 13 Asian countries, in collaboration with Council for Leather Exports (CLE) on November 14.

A vision document for the footwear industry will be of the prime focus during the conference where delegates from foreign countries will share their views.

CIFA includes footwear associations of all major Asian footwear producers like China, Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan.

Each country will give a detailed presentation of the status of the footwear industry in their respective country covering production, domestic market potential and projected growth in exports and the domestic market.

In its 33rd edition, member-countries would for the first time be giving their vision for the year 2019 about what is the expectation of their respective countries in production, market, labour, technology, etc, according to organizers.

M Rafeeque Ahmed, board member of Council for Leather Exports is the present Chairman of the CIFA, said, "Global footwear production is concentrated in Asia with the region accounting for 87% of the world's footwear production and the continent is home to six of the top seven footwear producing countries of the world."

Over 200 delegates, including 42 overseas delegates, are expected to participate in the event.

"With the Indian footwear sector planning to expand and looking for overseas collaborations and joint venture partners, India playing host to an international footwear conference is a timely opportunity. Hosting a prestigious conference in India will enhance the global status of the Indian footwear industry. It is necessary to be seen as a global player with strength and potential; for enhancing our global brand equity and share in global footwear business," Ahmed said.

According to CLE, footwear holds a major share of about 43% in India's total leather and leather products exports with an export value of US$ 2531.04 million (2013-14). India is the second largest global producer of footwear after China, accounting for 11.63% of global footwear production of 17.7 billion pairs.

Puran Dawar, president of Agra Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Chamber (AFMEC), said, "Agra's strengths in footwear are its competitive wage levels, availability of raw materials, and also the large domestic market. While the traditional strength had been in leather footwear and in men's footwear, other in-demand categories like ladies and children's footwear and non-leather footwear are fast growing segments. The conference will help us in understanding the new technologies."

He added that footwear manufacturers of Agra have a share of 65% in the domestic market and 28% in the total exports of footwear from the country.

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